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Edited by Francesca Santovetti


Jeffrey Schnapp

Modernitalia provides a map of the Italian twentieth century in the form of twelve essays by the celebrated cultural historian Jeffrey T. Schnapp. Shuttling back and forth between literature, architecture, design, and the visual arts, the volume explores the metaphysics of speed, futurist and dada typography, real and imaginary forms of architecture, shifting regimes of mass spectacle, the iconography of labour, exhibitions as modes of public mobilization and persuasion, and the emergence of industrial models of literary culture and communication.
The figures featured in the book include Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Mario Morasso, Julius Evola, Piero Portaluppi, Giuseppe Terragni, Alessandro Blasetti, Massimo Bontempelli, Giorgio de Chirico, Bruno Munari, Curzio Malaparte, and Henry Furst. Alongside these human protagonists appear granite blocks that drive the design of modern monuments, military searchlights that animate civilian shows, worker armies viewed as machines, sunglasses that tiptoe along the boundary of the private and public, newsreels as twentieth-century interpretations of Trajan’s column, and book covers and bindings that act as authorial self-portraits. The volume captures the Italian path to cultural modernity in all of its brilliance and multiplicity.


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A Note on This Edition


The works selected for this volume extend from the beginnings of Jef frey Schnapp’s scholarly career –‘Politics and Poetics in Marinetti’s Zang Tumb Tuuum’ was published in 1985—to writings composed in 2009 on the occasion of the Futurist centenary. Five of the essays appear here in Eng- lish for the very first time: ‘Suckert’s Sugar, Malaparte Mala Leche’ (2000) ‘Piero Portaluppi’s Errant Line’ (2003), ‘Notes on the Anatomy of the Worker’ (2006), ‘The Translator (Henry Furst)’ (2008), and ‘Why Speed is a Religion-Morality’ (2009). Six others are reprinted and we gratefully acknowledge their sources: ‘Shades (On a Premonitory Portrait by De Chirico)’ (1990; The Foundation for Advanced Critical Studies), ‘Border Crossings: Italian/German Peregrinations of the Theatre of Totality’ (1994; University of Chicago Press), ‘The Monument without Style’ (2004; Grey Room), ‘Bad Dada’ (2005; National Art Gallery, Washington, DC), ‘Mostre’ (2007; Deutsche Historisches Museum, Berlin), and ‘Munari’s Bombs’ (2008; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid). As in the case of any anthology, the selection is organized to highlight certain threads of analysis in a corpus of writings that ranges widely across the cultural field. The essays grouped under the title Normal Anomalies examine Italy’s zigzagging path towards cultural modernity with partic- ular attention to ambivalences and paradoxes, yearnings for an escape from history that is always haunted by history. The Entr’acte serves up two ruminations on modern forms of embodiment. Craft and Industry tracks transformations of the Italian public sphere and the industrialization of Italy’s...

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